Thursday, May 30, 2024

 Scenes from the Sanja Matsuri 1984 -2024

One of the largest festivals in Tokyo, postponed for several years due to the virus outbreak. This year the 3-day festival, which climaxed on May 19th, was blessed with good weather. For those who may not know, this is the festival of Asakusa Jinja which is located next to its more famous neighbor, Asakusa Kannon temple also known as Sensoji. On Asakusa Jinja, let me quote from my book "Shinto Shrines", "Asakusa jinja is a rare case of ordinary people being enshrined as kami, in this instance two fisherman brothers [hence the fishing net image used for the shrine] and a landowner. Sensoji tradition relates how the Hinokuma brothers... were fishing one day in the nearby Sumida River, when they caught a tiny bronze statue of the Kannon Bosatsu ("goddess of mercy") in their net. They threw it back in the rive rnumerous times only to catch it again. Finally, they decided to build a small hut for the image. The village headsman, one Hajino Matsuchi, realized the importance and enshrined it in his home, where he welcomed villagers to worship. The events are thought to have happened in 628,... and the a temple that is considered to be the origin of the present day Sensoji... was built by the monk Shokai in 645." 

The three (Jp. san) were enshrined in the jinja sometime in the Kamakura period. Although the smaller jinja might look like an after thought compared to the massive Sensoji, with its famous monzenmachi and kaminarimon, their origin is the same. For more detail, please see, "Shinto Shrines; A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan's Ancient Religion", coauthored with John Dougill and published by the University of Hawaii Press.

 I have posted a few photos of the Sanja Matsuri that I took in 1984. Although the quality is poor, they give some flavor or the festival in bygone days. 


                                         Top: Looking toward Sensoji after passing through kaminarimon.             Bottom: The north face of the hozomon looking toward Sensoji after passing through the monzenmachi.

Yakuza ride the mikoshi and exhort the carriers. Long since prohibited.


Several exhausted, young participants.